Ledesma tipped to win Pumas job

International
AFP
by AFP

Argentina will name their new rugby coach Wednesday with former Pumas hooker Mario Ledesma favoured to succeed Daniel Hourcade, who resigned last month after a string of losses.

A statement by the Argentina Rugby Union (ARU) said the new coach would be presented to the media at 1100 local time (1400 GMT) at their headquarters in Buenos Aires.

Ledesma took charge of the Jaguares this season and transformed them from a moderately successful side into quarter-finalists before losing to the Golden Lions in South Africa.

Particularly pleasing for the 45-year-old was winning all four matches on a tour of Australasia, including a victory over two-time champions Waikato Chiefs in New Zealand.

Under Ledesma, the Jaguares favoured a ball-in-hand approach and they would have won more than eight regular-season matches but for a lack of composure close to the tryline.

Mario Ledesma is grateful to Australian rugby. Photo: ARU MediaHe recently summarised the state of Argentine rugby, saying: "I believe we have the quality to compete against any nation.

"But I do not think we are fit or resilient enough and there is a lack of self belief among the players."

He will look to stars like full-back Emiliano Boffelli, winger Bautista Delguy, fly-half Nicolas Sanchez, hooker Agustin Creevy and flanker Pablo Matera to bring improvement.

When the Jaguares exchanged their orange strip for the blue and white of the national team last month they were woeful in three losses to weakened Wales and Scotland sides.

Hourcade, who guided Argentina to the 2015 Rugby World Cup semi-finals in England, quit after a heavy loss to the Scots in a one-off Test.

"We (with his assistants) think that the message is no longer getting through to the team, we have reached the end of a cycle," Hourcade told the Argentinian Rugby Union website.

"The assistant coaches and I assume the responsibility of making this decision having already mentioned the possibility before the June Tests."

Since finishing fourth at the last Rugby World Cup, the Pumas have won six Tests and lost 22, including all six in the four-nation Rugby Championship last season.

The 2017 Rugby Championship marked a low point for Argentina as they failed to garner even a bonus point, the first time they have done so badly since debuting in 2012.

Argentina begin their 2018 Rugby Championship with away and home matches against South Africa next month, starting in Durban on August 18.

The Pumas then tackle Australia away and world champions New Zealand away and home during September before completing their programme in early October at home to Australia.

A month later the South Americans will be in Europe for internationals against Ireland, France and Scotland on consecutive Saturdays from November 10.